The RSPCA has teamed up with two other leading animal welfare organisations to lobby both clothing brands and sheep farmers to move away from mulesing sheep.

RSPCA Australia, Four Paws and Humane Society International say they will work with the wool industry to encourage the breeding of sheep that do not require mulesing.

Mulesing is the process of removing folds of skin from the tail area of a sheep. It’s done to reduce flystrike and is mainly practised on sheep that have folds of skin, like merinos.

It used to be the industry standard in Australia, where flystrike can be a deadly problem, but over the past two decades many wool producers have focused on breeding sheep that do not require mulesing.

Some farming organisations are also changing their standards to discourage mulesing. The Victorian Farmers Federation lobbied for regulations requiring the mandatory use of pain relief when mulesing sheep, which came into effect last year.

But the Australian Superfine Wool Growers Association remains in support of the practice. Four Paws’s wool expert, Rebecca Picallo Gil, said more than 3,000 Australian woolgrowers had already switched to no-mules flocks.

Humane Society international’s Georgie Dolphin said:

With the advanced genetics available today, it is unacceptable to continue to breed wrinkly sheep that are prone to flystrike. Our organisations want to see an end to mulesing within the next decade, a target that is easily achievable.


PM confirms international borders to reopen Wednesday for some visa holders

One of the most tangible announcements from the joint presser was Scott Morrison confirming the international borders would reopen as planned this Wednesday.

We reported last week this was likely, but a bunch of international students and other travellers have been anxiously messaging Guardian Australia over the weekend hoping for some certainty. This should come as a relief to them.

First, a quick recap: the government announced in late November it was delaying the plan to reopen Australia to international skilled and student cohorts, as well as humanitarian, working, holidaymaker and provisional family visa holders, from 1 December until 15 December.

That “pause” also included reopening to travellers from Japan and South Korea. It was to gather more information about the Omicron variant. As it stood, the Australian border was “already closed to travellers except fully vaccinated Australian citizens, permanent residents and immediate family, as well as fully vaccinated green lane travellers from New Zealand and Singapore and limited exemptions”, per the government release at the time.

All arrivals to Australia also require a negative PCR test and to complete Australian traveller declaration forms detailing their vaccination status and confirming requirements to comply with state and territory public health requirements.

While the government has been signalling it wanted to get on with reopening, these things are always subject to change, based on latest advice about Omicron – so many travellers were worried about whether their plans would be disrupted once again. But Morrison, standing next to South Korean president Moon Jae-in, told reporters:

We also have tourism and education links that run deep – some 20,000 Korean students come and study in Australia – and we are looking forward to welcoming them back as we are the many tourists and business travellers and skilled migrants. And on Wednesday of this week, we will move again forward. The borders will be reopened both to Korea and to Japan and for skilled migration and for students as we conclude the pause that we announced several weeks ago.

Morrison praised the high level of vaccination in both countries, adding:

I know the more than 123,000 Australians of Korean ancestry will be looking forward to seeing their friends, their family and them being able to join together and that has been made possible because of the outstanding achievements in Korea in managing Covid and I congratulate the president on their achievements.



A small word of caution on the defence announcement out of the Scott Morrison/Moon Jae-in joint presser.

The Morrison government has confirmed that a $1bn defence contract for new Self-Propelled Howitzers for the Australian Army has been awarded to Hanwha Defense Australia.

From Morrison’s release: “Based in Greater Geelong, the contract will procure Self-Propelled Howitzers and Armoured Ammunition Resupply Vehicles, under the LAND 8116 Phase 1 project. The government committed to this project in May 2019.” The then defence minister, Linda Reynolds, announced in September last year that Hanwha Defence Australia had been chosen to build 30 self-propelled howitzers for the ADF, to be built in the Geelong region, as you can see from this story at the time.

The contract signing was witnessed by Morrison and Moon before their joint press conference in parliament house in Canberra this morning. In today’s release, the government says the initial contract “covers 30 Self-Propelled Howitzers, 15 Armoured Ammunition Resupply Vehicles, and weapon locating radars that help find enemy artillery, collectively referred to as the Huntsman family of vehicles”.

The defence minister, Peter Dutton, said: “The prime ability of the new vehicles is to fire and move quickly, avoiding enemy counter-attack. This project will mean a significant increase in the level of firepower and security for Australian artillery capability.”



Thousands of Queenslanders will be enjoying dinner in their own homes on Monday at last after spending months trapped across the border in New South Wales.

The border between the two states reopened at 1am Queensland time.

Queensland’s police commissioner, Katarina Carroll, estimated that 50,000 vehicles would be crossing in the early hours of Monday morning, with long delays expected.

All vehicles were required to present a border pass that was only made available to those travelling from hotspots one hour before the border opened, leaving many already anxious travellers more worried about getting home.

You can read the full report below:


Queensland records one new local Covid-19 case


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